The verdict: The new 2020 Buick Encore GX is a small, premium-priced SUV that feels neither exceptional nor exciting, with banal abstracts and a acquiescent powertrain. It gets the job done, admitting — bold “the job” is mostly “being a little bigger than an Encore” (which charcoal in Buick’s lineup).
Versus the competition: Buick’s access in the acutely amaranthine beck of baby SUVs is outshined by others in the chic that action nicer interiors or far bigger active adventures — or sometimes both — for bags of dollars less.
The Encore GX is Buick’s latest and second-smallest SUV, bigger abandoned than the Encore, which was one of the aboriginal auto SUVs on the bazaar and the brand’s bestseller. The Encore is abate than both the Envision and Enclave and offers buyers a best of front- or all-wheel drive and two turbocharged three-cylinder engines. The Encore GX with FWD has a continuously capricious automated transmission, while AWD versions get a added acceptable nine-speed automatic. Trim levels, in ascendance order, are Preferred, Select and Essence.
My analysis agent was a FWD Encore GX in the top Essence trim. It had the alternative turbo 1.3-liter agent and Buick’s Sport Touring, Convenience and Avant-garde Technology packages. The Sport Touring amalgamation ($650) adds a birr of spice, with body-colored ancillary molding, “sport” avant-garde and rear bumpers, a altered grille with red accents and package-specific 18-inch auto (different from the 18s every Encore GX gets standard). The avant-garde technology in the Avant-garde Technology Amalgamation ($1,790) includes a 360-degree camera system, a head-up affectation and congenital navigation. The Convenience Amalgamation ($770) adds automated parking assist, a rearview camera mirror and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Our analysis vehicle’s absolute price, including a $995 destination fee, was $34,115.
That’s a fair bulk of money for a baby SUV that, at its best, evoked animosity of “This car sure is … adequate.” The Encore GX competes adjoin added baby SUVs like the Mazda CX-30, our contempo SUV-comparison-test-winning Kia Seltos, and a agent with which it shares its platform, the Chevrolet Trailblazer.
Related: Should You Buy a 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer or Spend Added for a 2020 Buick Encore GX?
Even with its added able alternative engine, the Encore GX still has abandoned 155 horsepower, which isn’t abounding ponies to alarm aloft back the accelerator is pressed. It’s never activity to be a quick car, but that’s about absolutely accomplished for those because affairs one. It’s quiet on the artery and charcoal adequately composed at college speeds admitting its baby size. Passing assignment are a bit of a stretch, but already the Encore GX wakes up from its artery hypnosis, it does what you want.
Around town, decidedly in the archetypal I drove, with front-wheel drive and a continuously capricious transmission, you absolutely charge to angle on the gas to accumulate up with advancing burghal traffic. This acquired one of my atomic admired behaviors in the GX: torque steer. There was so abundant torque beacon — a abnormality in which agent adeptness activated to the avant-garde auto causes them to cull to one ancillary or the other. The caster would about jump out of my easily aggravating to about-face to one ancillary beneath able acceleration, which would be added forgivable if the Encore GX were impressively quick or at all fun to drive. As it is, it’s aloof aggravating; I’d acclaim allotment an AWD archetypal for this acumen alone. There additionally aren’t any accessible active modes to access burke or manual acknowledgment or to bind up the abeyance or steering.
Steering itself feels aloof and vague; it doesn’t acquaint area the adenoids and auto are acicular at any accustomed moment. There’s so abundant comedy in the council caster afore it absolutely turns the wheels, it reminded me of an early-2000s Mercury Grand Marquis — or the time I was 12 and got to beacon a DUKW during a Boston Duck Tour in the Charles River.
Choppy pavement — of which there’s affluence about Chicago — unsettles the Encore GX added than added baby SUVs I’ve apprenticed over the aforementioned roads. There was additionally added anatomy cycle in turns than I expected. The SUV feels like a abundant bigger agent back you’re active it until a avant-garde RAV4 pulls up alongside and dwarfs you, which may address to buyers attractive for a big car feel after an absolute big car.
Or big-car ammunition economy, for that matter. Our FWD-and-turbo 1.3-liter agent admixture is the best able of the Encore GX range, with EPA-estimated gas breadth of 30/32/31 mpg city/highway/combined. With AWD, those ratings dip to 26/29/28 mpg. The FWD turbo 1.2-liter GX is rated 26/30/28 mpg. The Mazda CX-30’s abundant added agreeable active acquaintance is additionally beneath fuel-efficient; FWD versions top out at 25/33/28 mpg and AWD SUVs at 25/32/27 mpg.
One much-appreciated affection on the Encore GX was the adeptness to conciliate the engine’s automated stop-start feature. GM had not ahead accustomed owners to about-face the affection off, and while abbreviation agent dabbling is acceptable for the environment, actuality ashore in a cartage jam on a airless summer day with an agent that refuses to run while chock-full — decidedly abbreviation the air conditioning’s capability — has fabricated me ache for at atomic the advantage to deactivate. It seems GM assuredly trusts its owners in this regard.
Despite the Encore GX’s aerial price, its autogenous doesn’t acquire a exceptional or alike fun feel. The banausic autogenous you see aloft has the abstracts affection you’d apprehend in an SUV priced a few thousand dollars less. Truly, the abandoned exceptional or near-premium autogenous in this chic belongs to the Mazda CX-30, but at atomic added contenders in the articulation don’t position themselves as upmarket choices the way Buick does.
That said, the Encore GX’s appearance do acquire added of a exceptional feel. It has an accessible head-up display, rearview camera mirror, 360-degree camera arrangement and accessible self-parking feature. But those appearance aren’t actual and aren’t consistently in use, admitting Encore GX drivers are consistently sitting on low-quality covering (in the Essence) or affecting genitalia of the autogenous that could use added padding. Alike the head-up affectation is an old-school flip-up adaptation that articulate like a cassette band actuality ejected whenever it rose into position or bankrupt bottomward back the car was angry off. The HUD is at atomic arresting back cutting polarized sunglasses, so acclaim to Buick for that.
Buick’s accepted 8-inch touchscreen infotainment arrangement is adequate, with accepted Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (2021 models additionally get accepted wireless compatibility). It has avant-garde abundant cartoon and a aboveboard user interface. For all the means the CX-30 acme the Buick in exceptional feel, Buick has Mazda baffled here.
Visibility is fine, with no above dark spots, and the alternative 360-degree camera arrangement helps out in bound spots. I was adequate in the backseat, with appropriate allowance and legroom. Buick estimates burden aggregate at 23.5 cubic anxiety with the backseat cocked and 50.2 cubic anxiety with it bankrupt down. The abate Encore has 18.8 and 48.4 cubic feet, respectively. A cruise with four adults — or alike two parents and two kids — ability be blame it, but two adults additional pets will be fine. Based on architect specifications, the CX-30 has beneath burden volume, while the Seltos and Trailblazer acquire more.
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Standard assurance appearance on the Encore GX accommodate advanced blow admonishing with automated emergency braking and banal detection, lane abandonment warning, lane accumulate abetment and automated aerial beams. That’s a big accord for a GM product; traditionally, some or all of these appearance acquire been higher-cost options. Some appearance are still optional, including adaptive cruise control, dark atom admonishing with rear cross-traffic alert, a 360-degree camera system, a head-up display, a rearview camera mirror and an automated parking feature.
The 360-degree camera arrangement was actual advantageous and I’ve already accepted the head-up display’s afterimage with polarized sunglasses, but the Buick’s added appearance acquainted added nice-to-have than necessary. I’ve never been a huge fan of rearview-mirror camera displays, as they consistently addle me a little by accouterment a hardly altered appearance than what my eyes expect. And automated parking abetment would be added advantageous if the Encore GX weren’t already so baby and accessible to park. I’ve acclimated agnate appearance on beyond cartage to advice actuate if an alien car would fit in a accurate spot, but the acknowledgment to that catechism in the Encore GX is about consistently “yes.”
The Insurance Institute for Artery Assurance hasn’t yet crash-tested the Encore GX. In this regard, it should not be mistaken for the added Encore, which has an absolutely altered belvedere and, thus, altered blast characteristics. Already the Encore GX is tested, the after-effects will arise here, with added baby SUVs. The National Artery Cartage Assurance Administration gave the Encore GX a four-star all-embracing assurance rating, out of a accessible bristles stars. In our Car Seat Check of the Encore GX, the baby SUV becoming alloyed scores
It’s adamantine to say if the Encore GX is a acute buy. On the one hand, with sticker prices at the top of the band abutting — or alike beyond — $35,000, the archetypal is adamantine to recommend. But will buyers anytime charge to pay alike abutting to sticker price?
I adopt the Chevrolet Trailblazer to the Encore GX both in agreement of autogenous affection and active experience, and the Mazda CX-30 far surpasses the Encore GX in aggregate but infotainment systems. If, however, you affliction about affairs a car from a calm cast that’s evidently nicer than Chevrolet — alike if the car itself is accumulated in South Korea — and if you can get a appropriate accord on an Encore GX, it will acceptable accommodated your needs.
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